As 2022 comes to a close we look back on an eventful and challenging year for investors as the economy and stock market faced a number of headwinds which led to a bear market for stocks, and negative returns for fixed income. Those headwinds were led by stubbornly high inflation, a big jump in interest rates, and concerns that we are heading toward a recession. In this outlook we will
We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and had the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. One thing for all of us to be thankful for is the recent rally in stocks. The S&P 500 was up about 5.4% for November, and is now up about 13.8% for the quarter. While this improvement is encouraging, we still have a long way to go as the index is still down approximately
September was another difficult month for stocks as the S&P 500 fell into bear market territory once again closing down roughly 9% for the month and 5% for the quarter. (YCharts) The main drivers once again were inflation, the Fed, and interest rates as investors continued to worry about the impact of each of these on economic growth.
The odds of a recession have steadily increased throughout this year which has been reflected in the deterioration of our economic dashboard. The dashboard helps guide our portfolio positioning. As such, the deterioration in the dashboard led us to be defensively positioned for most of the year with a portion of our growth portfolio.
July’s stock market rally continued in the first half of August; however, volatility picked back up over the last two weeks of the month and the S&P 500 finished down about 4% for August. That leaves the index down roughly 17% for the year. (YCharts)
Once again it was inflation and the Fed that moved markets throughout the month with better-than-expected inflation numbers driving the early rally, before concerns over a slowing economy were driven by Fed Chair Jay Powell’s speech later in the month. Next month, investors will again be watching inflation data carefully, and what it means for Fed policy, as the Fed is poised to raise rates in September: currently expectations are for a hike of 0.75%. (CME FedWatch Tool)
The challenging first half of 2022 is now in the books as the S&P 500 dropped roughly 8% in June bringing the year-to-date return to about -20.5%. While stocks struggled, they were not alone, as most asset classes have been negatively impacted this year, including fixed income, with the US Aggregate bond market down about 11% for the year.
The good news is that we made changes to portfolios in April to manage risk due to the fact that we felt the chances of recession were rising. Thus far, that change has been a good one for portfolios and we continue to have a portion of our growth portfolios defensively positioned today.
The volatility we’ve seen since the beginning of the year continued in May as stocks alternated between strength and weakness, with the S&P 500 closing the month almost unchanged. One piece of positive news for many investors was that the bond market stabilized with the Bloomberg Aggregate Bond Index up roughly 1% for the month after seeing losses in the first four months of the year. (YCharts)
We made changes to our portfolio positioning in mid-April in an effort to reduce risk within the growth portion of accounts. While this defensive shift has worked well so far, we continue to monitor current economic and market conditions for potential changes. As we look to the next 6-12 months, recession risks have risen but our economic dashboard does not yet signal that a recession is imminent.
February was a challenging month for stocks as the volatility that arrived in January continued with the S&P 500 finishing the month down 3.14%. Investors were focused on the potential impact of uncertainty in the markets; primarily, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Federal Reserve policy, and inflation.
The recent invasion of Ukraine has led to a lot of questions about what investors should do right now. This invasion is clearly a major geo-political event and a humanitarian crisis for the people of Ukraine. Moving forward our job is to think about how this event may impact the economy and markets and position portfolios accordingly. With that in mind we’re going to review a few key things to consider: